Agency vs. Client: What’s the Best Fit For You?

This post, Agency vs. Client: What’s the Best Fit For You? is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

Here’a a question I get a lot:

Should I work for an Agency or a Brand?

This is a tough one. There is no one right answer. I’ve been lucky enough to work on both sides of the branding aisle and I think like most career paths, there is no right or wrong path. Just the path you choose.

But I can tell you that from my perspective, if you are interested in an agency role, it’s good to pursue this at the beginning of your career.

Agency jobs can be tough. The pay (especially at the beginning) is low and the hours are long. But, at the right Agency, you will learn a lot. So if you are interested in trying the Agency side, it’s often best to invest this time early in your career when normally you have less obligations (mortgage, spouse, kids) and can put in the long hours and be less concerned about the pay.

In contrast, the relatively shorter and more predictable hours of a client-side job can often fit your lifestyle better when kids enter the picture.

I also believe one benefit of working on the Agency side is that by being accountable to a client, you can learn a great deal about program management and meeting management skills. As an Assistant Account Executive at Grey, I learned how to be very buttoned-up. I had to make sure everyone was prepared for meetings and we weren’t wasting the client’s time. Agendas went out with meeting invites, materials were prepared and next steps were clearly outlined in meeting reports. This kind of discipline, learned early on, stayed with me and was helpful as I advanced through my career.

You can also learn this on the Client side, but often meetings are a bit more casual. At least this was my experience at Virgin- but also at many Clients that I worked for as an Agency partner.
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The other aspect that I loved about working on the Agency side was the exposure to different accounts and business challenges. You don’t always get that when you sign on early with a client that works in one category.

So there are a  lot of plusses about the Agency side, but here’s one tick in favor of a Client job…if you are really interested in the business side of marketing you will likely learn more about this if you are on the Client side. This isn’t to say that Agency people don’t do a good job of learning about their Client’s businesses. They do. But in my experience, no matter how close an Agency partner is, its still not the same as being on the inside and hearing first hand all of the business and financial conversations – and being truly held accountable for business results.

My 5 + years at Virgin was like getting my MBA. I became much more comfortable and familiar with different business terms and business models. I saw first hand the impact of different marketing decisions. From a much closer perspective than I ever had on the Agency side. I also learned how to be more accountable for my creative ideas. I couldn’t propose solutions that were going to cost a lot without thinking about how we would make the cost up in additional revenue. This might sound like a constraint, but it actually made me make sure my creative ideas were more sound, and in turn, they had a better chance of being implemented.

So what’s the right fit for you? It’s hard to say. One way to make the choice is to think about where you see yourself in 5-10 years. If you have any ambitions of someday starting your own business, then I would say it’s really important to get some experience on the Client side. Even if you have an MBA from a top school – there’s really no substitute for in market experience.

And if you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur or are already building a business, our highly effective, premier branding program, Brand will give you the insight and tools you need to get the job done. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also check us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“Brand School was helped us set structure to our process, define our target and recognize our customer’s motivations. We were able to create timely taglines and better define our branding campaigns”.  – Randi Curhan, Development Coordinator for Redwood High School Foundation

Sharpen Your Digital Fluency to Win the Job

This post, Sharpen Your Digital Fluency to Win the Job, is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

Whether you are a raving fan of Facebook – or a hater – it doesn’t really matter.

Part of the appeal of hiring someone in their 20’s is that the hiring manager (often someone in their 40’s or 50’s) believes that you are a Digital Native and that you will help them decipher Instagram from Pinterest and everything in between.

I meet marketing students all the time who say, “I’m not really that into social media.” Well here’s my advice… Get into it. Fast.

If you are interested in branding or marketing, you need to be fluent in Social Media. Not as someone posting vacation pics and snaps of wild karaoke nights – but as someone who understands and appreciates the power of social media to connect with people, create dialogue and build brands.

The latest “hot” social channel may fluctuate or evolve over time (personally I think there is a whole generation of tweens who are going to be more loyal to Instagram then Facebook) but two-way relationships – engagement marketing – are here to stay. And you need to know your Tumblr from your Twitter and how to use it for brands you will be helping to build.

So what’s a budding brander to do? Does this mean you have to become an uber blogger or tweet 24/7? No, but you do need to be able to demonstrate digital fluency:

  • Be prepared in interviews to talk about what brands and branding experts you follow on Twitter.
  • Reach out to experts and agencies through their blogs/twitter accounts. Leave positive, insightful comments. These budding relationships could  help you down the road in your job search.
  • Make sure you have a professional presence on the major social media such as Linkedin and Twitter, and make sure your profiles are up-to-date
  • If you have a Linkedin or Twitter profile, make sure you include a professional, friendly picture. None of those grey portrait outlines or generic blue eggs. They communicate that you are not really committed.
  • And think about starting a blog or a twitter account dedicated to branding, marketing, and/or creativity. No one but your mom may read it at first, but it you post or tweet fairly frequently, it will eventually come up when prospective employers Google your name – and it will show that you are serious about the field.

Want to start increasing your visibility right away? Apply to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist. We’re always looking for great student and guest authors for our blog. Interested? Just send a brief synopsis of your blog idea along with a sample paragraph to Jamie@BrandTwist.com and we will contact you within one week to let you know if your blog idea has been accepted for further development.

BrandTwist does not pay for guest blog content, but we will provide you with a byline that includes your bio and contact details. This is a great platform to reach other people who are passionate about brand. Who knows… maybe your future employer will see your blog post and call you for an interview!

Hone your skills. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding course, will give you the tools you need to develop your branding skills. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also check us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“Brand School helped me get clear on my messaging and my brand. Now my clients know exactly what it is I bring to my classes.” – Josh Pais, Actor and Founder of Committed Impulse, creativity workshop

How Not to Dress for Success

This post, How Not to Dress for Success, is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

It may be summer, but this is still a job. Even if you see senior partners dressing in casual clothes – remember they’ve already gotten the job. If you are an intern or junior employee,  you are still auditioning. The casual air in a creative environment like an agency can be misleading, but if you have any doubt whatsoever, err on the more professional side.

This means:

No flip flops (for men or women) ever- save them for the beach!

No midriff baring.

Gals: No super micro-mini skirts or hotpants.

Guys: Depending on your company, you may not need to wear a jacket or tie – but no shorts or scruffy t-shirts, and no pants hanging so low they’re falling off.

Pay attention to how the men and women in the office are dressing when they go to see clients.

When in doubt: ask!

Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money, but it doesn’t mean you need to look frumpy either. Just be clean, neat and professional.  Don’t go for the the Devil Wears Prada Anne Hathaway before look.

If you are in the branding business, you do need to pay a little attention to your own brand. This is a great time to start cultivating your unique personal style, and style can be expressed in many ways.

If you do want to show some personality through your clothing, accessorize. This can be statement jewelry, cool bags, belts, shoes, hats, scarfs or ties; all applicable for both men and women.

Perhaps there is a certain color, pattern or cool style of specs that you are passionate about. Don’t be afraid to wear them continually and start to develop a signature look. As long as it’s genuinely connected to who you are – don’t play dress up.

One place where shorts are totally appropriate—the company softball team. Joining in is a great way to show your unique personality, demonstrate that you are team player and get to know your future colleagues and bosses.

When I was at Virgin we had a great college intern who came to every game. He wasn’t the best batter or fielder but he had such a great attitude. He was always cheering his teammates on and offering to buy the first round at the pub after the game. This definitely made a positive and memorable impression, gave us great insight into his personality and showed that he was someone who could fit in with the corporate culture.

Have you observed a fashion faux pas in the office? We’d love to hear about your own experience… maybe it was your own internship or a story from one of your friends.

Also, if you are looking to boost your resume, why not become a guest blogger for BrandTwist? Reach out to jamie@herculiz.com with your blog idea or any questions about guest blogging.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the insight and tools you need to express your personal brand for greater recognition in your career field. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also connect with us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“I highly recommend tis class to anybody; it will put your business on a different level.” – Dr. Marina Kostina, Distance Learning Specialist, CEO of  wired@heart

Cultivate Your Personal Brand to Land That Job

This post, Cultivate Your Personal Brand to Land That Job, is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

 

Whether you realize it or not, you are a brand. When you are competing for a job it is not just about your education and your skills, it is also about what’s unique in the way you think, the way you work and the things that you are passionate about. People hire people, not resumes.

Like professional brand-building, your personal brand needs management. You need to actively build, manage and update your personal profiles. Make sure you frequently Google yourself (you can bet prospective employers will) and work toward presenting a professional image.

But beyond professional, you should be able to get across a sense of your passion for branding and marketing.  A great way to start is to perform a SWOT analysis on the brand of YOU. In this exercise you identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and create a plan on how to continue to build your personal assets and close any credibility gaps.

For example:  you say you are passionate about brands on your resume, but are there examples to support this?

Take action to close this gap. Some examples of how you can do this: update your Linkedin profile to include brands that you are passionate about. Start a branding blog or comment/guest blog for others. Create a professional Twitter account that tweets about new and interesting brands and/or re-tweets interesting branding articles from others. Join any branding, marketing, or entrepreneur clubs at school. Intern or volunteer for a brand you are passionate about.

Read more about Making Your Brand Personal HERE.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program will give you the insight and tools you need to express your professional and personal brands.  Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also check us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“Julie gave great examples in Brand School that  inspired me to think outside the box. I especially appreciate her attention to everyone’s brands and her insightful comments. Thank you!” – Jamie Lacroix, Marketing Department for a Non-profit 

So You Want To Work In Branding. Here’s My Advice…

This post, So You Want to Work in Branding. Here’s My Advice… is the first in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

One of my favorite things about spring is – STUDENTS! Every April I get to spend time with undergraduate and graduate students at both Cornell and Columbia – two great universities where I’ve had the good fortune of teaching as an adjunct professor. I also get to connect with students in my own online program, Brand School.

During and after my visits to campus, I receive dozens of questions about pursuing a career in branding touching on a wide array of topics such as: “How do I grow and manage my personal brand?” “Is it better to work at an agency or client-side?” “How do I break into the branding business?”

I’d love to be able to sit down and speak one-on-one with each student about his or her concerns. But unfortunately, my schedule is full to the brim with my brand consultancy BrandTwist, my Brand School program, and two full-time students of my own (a 6th grader and a 10th grader).

But the career concerns of my students are so important; I simply could not let them go. And thus began the foundation for this blog series, So You Want to Work in Branding. Here’s My Advice…  This series is designed specifically for those considering a career in branding. I give my top tips and share with you my insights from over 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. If you are curious, you can read more about my background here.

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If you are considering a career in the branding industry, this series is about YOU. The more input you share about your concerns, questions and issues, the more meaningful information I can provide. Leave your input in the comments section below – that way other students (who probably have similar questions) can also join in and benefit from the conversation.

Please realize the point-of-view I express in this blog series is based solely on my own experience. There is no one right way to go about building a career in branding – but that’s part of the fun of it.

WHERE DO I START?

This blog series is a great place to start your process.

Speak to as many people as possible in the industry.

Always have your contact information readily available (yes, we still use actual business cards!). And be ready with a short elevator pitch about your credentials and what makes you a desirable hire. You can read more about honing your elevator pitch here.

Consider the relationship you have with your teachers, professors, and counselors as a wonderful resource. They may have direct referrals for you or give you ideas on where to network.

Additional powerful resources are college club, alumni and fraternity or sorority connections.

GET NOTICED ONLINE

One thing you can start to do right away to flex your branding muscle and increase your visibility is to be a guest author for industry blogs. BrandTwist is always looking for student and guest authors for our blog. Interested? Just send a brief synopsis of your blog idea along with a sample paragraph to Jamie@BrandTwist.com and we will contact you within one week to let you know if your blog idea has been accepted.

Check out the BrandTwist blog list of categories we cover (to the right) and view the latest guest blog posts here.

BrandTwist does not pay for guest blog content, but we will provide you with a byline that includes your contact details. This is a great platform to reach other people who are passionate about brand. Who knows… maybe your future employer will see your blog post and call you for an interview!

JUST ONE MORE THING

You may be tempted to charge ahead with a full-court press when you start to contact your resources and associations, but I urge caution here. There are effective and ineffective ways of making yourself noticeable and accessible. We will cover many of the do’s and don’ts throughout the rest of this blog series, so please stay tuned!

I look forward to sharing with you and hearing from you! Feel free to share this post with any friends you think could also benefit from a smarter job search.

Here’s the next post in the Career series: Network More Effectively to Land the Job.

“Julie’s active participation in Brand School and  feedback was amazing and helped a LOT. I received great value from this program.” – Leslie Hughes, PUNCHmedia 

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the insight and tools you need to get the job done. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also check us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.